The Department of Indian Affairs and of Northern Development under external monitoring - First Nations of Quebec demand government accountability



    MONTREAL, Oct. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - "The federal government fails to comply
with its obligations and the Department of Indian Affairs maintains dependency
in First Nations through a system still deeply steeped in colonialism. This
attitude must change immediately", declared the Chief of the Assembly of First
Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Ghislain Picard, at a Press Conference, in
Montreal, after the holding of an important meeting with representatives of
several International Organizations and Quebec groups sensible to Human
Rights. This meeting was scheduled on October 12, the symbolic date of
Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of the Americas.
    It is thus with the support of various groups such as Amnesty
International and Rights and Democracy that the AFNQL demanded today that the
Minister of Indian Affairs be submitted to external monitoring. Formal
requests will be submitted to the UNESCO and other United Nations bodies so
that international attention is paid to certain issues specific to First
Nations of Quebec.
    The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador must deal with very difficult
circumstances in three important files: education, youth protection and
housing. "We have chosen to talk about these three files today but could have
also talked about quite a number of other problems that do not seem to find a
sympathetic ear with the government," added Chief Picard.
    "If the federal government does not want to be strongly condemned by
international organizations, it will have to fundamentally change its way of
doing things. Next week, Stephen Harper has the opportunity, in the Speech
from the Throne, to announce his intents on this issue. If he does not give us
any positive sign, we will use all the resources required to bring into the
open, here and elsewhere, the aberrations First Nations must deal with in
Canada," declared Ghislain Picard.
    "After 400 years of abuse, denial of our rights, alienation attempts, it
is high time to put an end to colonialism", concluded Chief Picard.

    
    Did you know that

    Education

    -   The 20-year federal funding formula of First Nations' schools has not
    -   $0 for the funding of vocational education;
    -   $0 for the funding of technologies in our schools;
    -   $0 for the funding of sports and recreational activities in our
        schools.

    Housing

    -   There is a housing crisis among First Nations and there is certainly
        a connection between this situation and the social problems that
        prevail locally;
    -   Mould can be found in over 1,500 dwellings, which represents 13% of
        the 12,200 units that constitute the First Nations' housing
        inventory;
    -   The First Nations' population has increased at three times the rate
        than Quebec's population over the last ten years;
    -   Dwellings are crowded: each housing unit accommodates on average 4
        persons, which represents twice as much as a Quebec household;
    -   About 8,500 housing units would have to be built over the next five
        years to meet First Nations' needs.

    Youth protection

    -   Four time more reporting (8% compared to 2%) retained among First
        Nations children than among Quebec children;
    -   Seven times more children are placed among First Nations than among
        Quebeckers. By 2008-09, there will be nine time more;
    -   Since 2002, on average, 12% of First Nation children have been placed
        each year;
    -   Over the past five years, First Nation children have spent 9.5 months
        in placement resource, among which 189,036 bed-nights during the last
        year.
    

    The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional
organization that represents the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and
Labrador.




For further information:

For further information: Alain Garon, Communication Officer, AFNQL,
(418) 842-5020,  cel.: (418) 956-5720


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